Getting Ready for NaNoWriMo 2019 by Tinthia Clemant
Let’s welcome back monthly columnist Tinthia Clemant as she shares with us: “Getting Ready for NaNoWriMo 2019.” Enjoy!
For those of you who don’t know about NaNoWriMo, I’ll let the official description do the talking:
NaNoWriMo is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides tools, structure, community, and encouragement to help people find their voices, achieve creative goals, and build new worlds — on and off the page. (Taken from the NaNoWriMo website homepage.)
In other words, NaNoWriMo is a writing support community. By joining the gang, your first draft, finished story, whatever, will become a reality. And participation is free, although they do ask for donations which isn’t a lot to ask for the tools they provide.
Join NaNoWriMo 2019 here: https://www.nanowrimo.org/sign-up
You’ll need an outline!
Outlines and How They Save Our Stories
What? No outline? Good for you. Let me know how things are going around day 11 when your story is meandering all over the place and you’re spending more time “researching” than writing.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a plotter by any stretch of the imagination. Even grocery lists feel too constraining. Oh, I’ll jot down a few items but then I’ll usually leave the list at home and wing it in the store.
If you walk by a woman in your local store who’s staring blankly at the selections it could be me.
You see, when it comes to writing, I’m a pantser; someone who writes with abandon, allowing the story to flow where it wants.
I have an idea, maybe a few scenes, perhaps a killer opening sequence, and bam, like a racehorse, I’m out of the gate and speeding ahead to what I think is the finish line.
Unfortunately, after a few chapters I find myself wandering in a field, munching on tall grass.
Okay, I’m sorry, I’ll stop with the racehorse analogy.
The whole point is when I lose direction I typically lose interest in the story.
Around this time I’ll decide to give up writing and get a job making lattes at my local Starbucks. My editor calls moments such as this “Jesus moments”: times when a pantser see the light and recognizes a simple outline would have made the entire writing process a whole lot simpler.
Creating an Outline
Don’t start hyperventilating. An outline isn’t the scary monster us pantsers imagine.
Even a simple, one-page list of where our story begins, what’s in the middle, and where it ends will help keep us in the race. (Yes, the racehorse analogy had returned.)
Here’s what I’ll be using for this year’s NaNoWriMo.
- Main character(s)
- Status Quo
- Goals and Motivation
- Initiating Incident
The specifics will come as your story grows. For now keep it loose and easy.
Jot down a few words under each heading.
One sentence for each; three tops.
Allow me to demonstrate:
Fred and Mary
Fred and Mary work for the same company.
Goal and Motivations
Fred and Mary are lonely. Fred wants to date Mary; Mary wants to find love.
Fred and Mary are caught in a stalled elevator.
Once free from the elevator, Fred and Mary go back to life as usual and Fred watches from afar as Mary starts dating the fireman who rescued them from the elevator.
Mary finds out the fireman is married and resolves to give up dating.
Fred convinces Mary not all men suck.
That’s all you need.
Notice I didn’t get involved in Fred or Mary’s specifics, such as what they do for a living, what they look like, what flavor ice cream they like, blah, blah, blah.
Those pieces will come as you write. The outline is similar to completing the edges of a puzzle.
Keep it Simple
Now you try. Once you have your simple outline completed, post it where you can see it every time you sit down to write during NaNoWriMo. When you find yourself meandering off course, look at your outline to help get you back on track.
By the end of NaNoWriMo, you’ll have the first draft of your story, and like a seasoned stallion, you’ll be ready for the next race called revising. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)
Good luck and happy writing.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Author of The Summer of Annah series, Tinthia Clemant lives in a secluded spot on the Concord River in Massachusetts. Her companions include a black Labrador/Coonhound named Harlee; Shadow, an elderly black cat who still rocks at catching mice that have wandered into the house; a few hundred wild Mallards; assorted turtles, songbirds, snakes; and hawks, two Great Blue herons, and an American bald eagle.
Besides writing, she enjoys baking, gardening, reading (of course), painting and photography, laughing, and movies (the more explosions the better). Tinthia is an ice cream aficionado and insists that Ben and Jerry are the most perfect men ever created. She inherited my father’s temper and her mother’s view on life: It’s meant to be lived, embraced, savored, inhaled, and not given back until every last drop of wonder is claimed. If you visit Tinthia, make sure you bring a bottle of bourbon and, of course, ice cream. Her favorite flavor is Chunky Monkey.